In a final instalment of category-specific touchpoint investigations, Kantar’s Nicola Niesl looks at touchpoint effectiveness for retail brands.

In the fast-moving world of retailers, paid touchpoints contribute 27% of brand impact, which is above average compared to other categories.

Within paid media, TV is the biggest contributing factor, and is a significantly more cost-efficient touchpoint than we have seen in other categories thanks to relatively low frequency levels. Retail brands clearly benefit from digital ads – Facebook, Online Display and Online Video collectively deliver the most brand impact after TV and are also the most cost-effective paid media. Online Display is particularly good at driving image associations, while Facebook is relatively stronger at driving purchase intent. Other traditional media (Radio and Outdoor) aren’t generally very cost-effective for retail brands, although Radio works better for purchase intent. OOH is relatively weak as a standalone media channel making it strongly reliant on other touchpoints: 61% of its impact comes from synergy effects with other media.

In order to get the best return on investment, it’s therefore crucial for retail brands to understand the channel-level impact of different media strategies. As an example, eBay in Australia was using quarterly Kantar CrossMedia studies to help maintain their market leading position. Their dominance was threatened in 2017 since a global competitor launched their service in the country. Amongst other key learnings, it was observed that the right combination of video assets and multi-screen flighting helps eBay maintain a strong core brand, while other platforms like Radio, OOH and Social can help drive frequency of site traffic. Using Kantar’s findings, eBay re-planned media weights, changed their branding approach, optimised their social platforms and have since better integrated the channels for maximum synergy effects.

Beyond paid media, we know that experiential touchpoints like the service delivered by staff and the shopping experience including physical interactions with the products themselves are the most important brand drivers. Point of Sale touchpoints (such as interactive retail counters and displays) account for around 10% of the total touchpoint impact and thereby highlight the importance of real-life experiences.

A leading retailer in the UK used Kantar’s Connect to uncover the best strategy to defend their brand equity against aggressive price-cutters, by identifying the most influential touchpoints both in-store and out-of-store. The results of the study revealed that the products play an important role in strengthening their positioning perception, plus food counters are essential in ensuring the right messages are conveyed to customers.

With these macro learnings in mind, it stands to reason that retailers today cannot rely on one type of media alone. Consumers tend to look for information online and offline, in different sequences, depending on the category. This means that retailers (whether online or offline) should focus on their presence in both traditional and digital touchpoints. The proportion between offline and online might vary depending on whether you’re a physical or ecommerce retailer, but brands must strike a balance and drive synergistic effects for effective activation.

Since the ultimate goal of all media efforts is to drive consumers to the store (whether it’s a physical store or a website), the primary focus should be on consumers, rather than the products on the shelf. While looking for the perfect media mix, it’s crucial to communicate with and listen to shoppers, rather than just inform and promote. This way, retailers build engagement among the target audience and develop a personality – the brand will be seen as having a clear point of view, and is less likely to be overshadowed by the products. Interactive and responsive usage of social media, such as blog posts, recipes, and other native content activities beyond the core offer can also help to build loyalty, and to drive repeat store visitation.

A new definition of social media activities is also crucial since a change in consumer behaviour in digital environments can be seen across the globe: social media platforms are developing ‘shopvertising’ formats and stores, which potentially narrow the gap between advertising exposure and actual purchase. We expect this development to accelerate, and platform familiarity to increase, making the purchase journey even more rapid. Furthermore, according to our research 61% of shoppers are likely to purchase from social sites in the future*. Retail brands therefore have a fresh opportunity to innovate by opening new storefronts in these social spaces.

While a post-COVID future remains nebulous, it is safe to say that retailers are looking to remove the ‘touch’ from ‘touchpoints’. Over the course of 2020, we have seen retailers using self-service solutions powered by AI, facial recognition, and AR technology to make online and in-store experiences more engaging for customers. To increase convenience even further, retailers may introduce self-service tools either in-store (voice assistants/digital kiosks/robots) or on their website (chatbots). At the same time, it remains important to offer shoppers a choice, and not avoid making the experience too impersonal.

Despite the ever-increasing number of touchpoints available, an omnichannel mindset does not require retail brands to be everywhere. It does require you to be in the main places your core customers are, and the places which are most appropriate for desired brand identity. Identifying and integrating your most impactful touchpoints into a holistic omnichannel approach is the best way to fully maximise synergies and realise the potential of each touchpoint.

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